Comprehensive News List
General Food Safety News/ Outbreak News/ Recall News/ New Methods News/
News/ On-Line Slides/ Job Information/Internet Journal of Food Safety



Sponsorship Q/A

Click here
to go
Main Page


Click here
to go
List of Newsletters

To subscribe this Food Safety Newsletter,
Click here


Internet Journal of Food Safety

Job Opennings



Serious Salmonella Outbreak Hits Holland
Source of Article:
Wednesday 05 November 2008
An antibiotic-resistant strain of the salmonella bacteria has made between 2,000 and 3,000 people ill since mid-August and resulted in around 30 people being hospitalised, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday.
The public health institute RIVM says it is a 'very serious outbreak'. The source of the infection has not yet been traced but could be ham, the RIVM told the Volkskrant.

FDA Spanked by Full Science Board on Bisphenol A Safety Stance
By Emily P. Walker, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today
Published: October 31, 2008
Source of Article:
GAITHERSBURG, Md., Oct. 31 -- The FDA erred when it determined that the use of the common chemical bisphenol A is safe, particularly for infants, the agency's full science board concluded today.
The full board, made up of independent advisers to the FDA, unanimously endorsed a highly critical report by a special board subcommittee on BPA. The subcommittee concluded that the agency employed faulty science when it determined the BPA is safe as currently used. (See: FDA Advisers Denounce Agency's Decision on BPA Safety)
The chemical is used in packaging of infant formula, and in molded plastic bottles and sippy cups. The current margin of safety is 5 mg/kg, but the subcommittee recommended lowering that level by one order of magnitude.
The full board, chaired by Barbara McNeil, M.D., Ph.D., of Harvard, accepted the subcommittee's report after inserting language to state that enough evidence exists to support a more conservative margin of safety for BPA exposure among infants.
In September, the FDA issued a draft assessment of BPA that said there was insufficient evidence to connect commonly used levels of BPA to some health issues, including those in infants. Canada, meanwhile, recently banned the use of BPA in baby bottles. (See: DA Gives Preliminary Okay to Bisphenol A in Food Packaging)
Some scientists and consumer groups have warned that the chemical might contribute to some cancers, early puberty, alterations of the prostate and urinary tracts, and behavioral problems.
The subcommittee released its assessment of the FDA's report earlier this week, which charged that the FDA was wrong to dismiss a number of government and academic studies in its assessment for not meeting the standard of "good laboratory practices."
Toxicologist Martin Philbert, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, chairman of the science subcommittee, said he understands why the FDA assessment relied so heavily on two studies from a field of many BPA studies, because "good laboratory practice" studies tend to use more animals and readily submit raw data for independent analysis.
But he said the subcommittee disagrees that those two studies were the only "acceptable" studies to be used, and said more recent research must be considered, including a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Assocation that connected BPA to a number of health problems including cardiovascular disease. (See: Common Chemical Linked to Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disorders)
At today's science board meeting, Dr. Philbert reiterated the criticisms outlined in the subcommittee's report and criticized the limited scope of the FDA's assessment on the impact of BPA, because it examined the use of the chemical only in food applications.
He also criticized the FDA for not including demographic information to determine the likely number of people exposed at each BPA concentration and for relying on too few formula samples -- which were from the early 1990s and all from one city -- in making a determination about BPA in baby formula.
The board called for future, large-scale studies examining BPA exposure from a wider range of applications.
The report now goes to the FDA, which will likely respond in the next few months, said Stephen F. Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the agency's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
If the FDA accepts the subcommittee's findings, such as a lower margin of safety for exposure for infants, the agency would likely issue new regulations. But, said Dr. Sundlof, the agency would not issue a public notice out of fear that mothers may stop buying infant formula and attempt to make their own, BPA-free, but less nutritious, formula.
According to Dr. Sundlof, the FDA is already working with manufacturing companies that use BPA in their products to develop alternatives or to figure out how to effectively lower levels of the chemical.

E. coli outbreak hits 43 near Hamilton
Source of Article:
Mike Barber, Canwest News Service
Published: Tuesday, November 04, 2008
The number of suspected cases linked to an E. coli outbreak in Burlington, Ont., spiked Tuesday, just as another restaurant in the nearby Niagara region prepared to reopen on Wednesday after a similar outbreak closed it last month.
The Halton Region Health Department said Tuesday that officials were investigating 43 suspected cases of E. coli - up from 28 on Monday - originating from Johnathan's Family Restaurant in Burlington, between Hamilton and Toronto.
Of the 48 cases, three have been confirmed to be E. coli O157.
The molecular fingerprint of the Burlington infections has been matched to those of the Niagara outbreak, where 47 suspected cases, 12 of which have been confirmed, led to the closure of two restaurants.
Both M.T. Bellies in Welland, Ont., and the Little Red Rooster in nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake have been linked to 21 cases each of suspected E. coli infection.
The remaining five suspected cases have not been linked to any food establishment.
Niagara Region Public Health said Tuesday that the Little Red Rooster had "satisfied all the criteria" for reopening. The restaurant's owners said they would reopen on Wednesday.
Dr. Robin Williams, the medical officer for Niagara health authority, said the strain of E. coli O157 was very rare. She said that given three restaurants in two regions bore the same strain, common food distributors are being looked at to help determine a source of infection.
Early analysis, said Williams, suggested salad ingredients could be a potential culprit, but nothing has been confirmed.
E. coli is usually found in undercooked ground beef, but has also affected water supplies and most recently, lettuce grown in California and distributed throughout the United States - including more than 30 cases in nearby Michigan.
A third E. coli outbreak in North Bay, Ont., has led to 246 suspected cases of infection, 49 of which have been confirmed to be the harmful food-borne bacterium.
That outbreak, which closed a Harvey's fast-food restaurant on Oct. 12, has seen cases in Quebec, B.C., and 10 other districts of Ontario, but has not been linked to the other outbreaks.
No source of contamination has yet to be determined in any of the outbreaks and the investigations are ongoing.

Instructions for Verification Sampling Programs for E. coli O157:H7 in Raw Beef Products

Scheduling Food Safety Assessments and Intensified Verification Testing

Maple Leaf names new food-safety chief
Canwest News Service
| Source of Article:
Published: Wednesday, November 05, 2008
TORONTO - Maple Leaf Foods, the Canadian food processor at the forefront of a deadly tainted-meat scandal in recent months, has hired a new chief food safety officer.
Randall Huffman, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation, will assume the position at the Toronto-based company in January, according to a news release Wednesday.
Huffman oversaw AMI, a foundation that represents more than 600 meat-processing firms and industry suppliers globally. With degrees in meat and animal science from several American universities, he will lead Maple Leaf's food-safety and quality-assurance programs, the statement said.
"Dr. Huffman brings vast scientific and industry knowledge and experience to Maple Leaf in global food-safety best practices," Maple Leaf president Michael McCain said in the news release. "He will drive continuous improvement in our protocols, assets, and human resource strategies that will reflect the latest research and highest standards globally."
Contaminated deli meats from the company's Toronto plant were linked to at least 20 deaths this year, resulting in a massive nationwide meat recall.
After an extensive investigation, the company said it believed two slicers at the plant had been harbouring the potentially deadly bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes.
The bacterium can cause listeria, which poses an elevated health risk to pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of listeriosis include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea.
The meat plant was shut down for a month, and then was permitted to operate while health officials tested samples of all meat produced.
Last month, Maple Leaf Foods Inc. posted a third-quarter loss of $12.9 million due to the financial impact of the deadly outbreak of listeriosis food poisoning.

For food industry leaders, a meeting worth its salt
Source of Article:
Nov. 5, 2008 by Nicole Miller
It's no secret that Americans eat too much salt, a habit linked to numerous health problems. At first glance, the solution seems simple: stop eating so much of the stuff.
But, as it turns out, salt-a.k.a. sodium chloride-can't easily be cut from the American diet. It is a key preservative, one that has been used for thousands of years to combat the growth of pathogenic microbes in foods. Now as much as ever, we rely on it to keep our processed, ready-to-eat meals safe.
Despite the challenges, food companies are interested in finding alternatives to salt that won't compromise food safety. For these industry leaders, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Food Research Institute (FRI) is convening a daylong conference on Nov. 6 titled "Sodium Reduction and Its Effect on Food Safety, Food Quality and Human Health," which will feature a balanced discussion on salt's role in health and food safety, and an update on alternatives.
Representatives from more than 20 food and ingredient companies are registered, including Kraft, Sara Lee, Johnsonville, Sargento, Schreiber, and Morton, as well as numerous professionals from the nutrition and health care fields.
"This is a chance to educate product developers about alternatives to sodium chloride. It's also an opportunity to let nutritionists know where (the food industry's) hands are tied," says Kathy Glass, associate director of the Food Research Institute.
Glass, who helped organize the meeting, will present her research findings there. She assesses the ability of traditional food preservatives and spice extracts to replace some of the salt added to processed meat products. Currently, she is collaborating with scientists at the UW-Madison's Meat and Muscle Biology Laboratory to develop and test meat products incorporating these alternative preservatives.
The conference will feature other UW-Madison experts, including Mark Johnson, a food science professor; Chuck Kaspar, a bacteriology professor and FRI investigator; Karen Kritsch, a clinical nutritionist at the UW Hospital and Clinics; Andy Milkowski, an adjunct professor in the animal science department; and Gail Underbakke, a nutrition coordinator at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

US: Irradiated lettuce safe, beneficial
Source of Article:
The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a technique that's supposed to protect you from dangerous bacteria ? irradiating lettuce. The low dose of radiation is used to kill off E. coli and salmonella, which can live and breed on lettuce. But the idea has a lot of people concerned. "It's hard to get past that idea that anything that is irradiated is safe and that it doesn't have radioactivity in it," said Tigard microbiologist Kim Hutchinson, whose company Biologic Resources tests food before it hits the market. "The two are entirely different."
In fact, radiation has been proven to be safe. It's been used to treat meats and spices for several years with no negative side effects. As for concern that the treatment kills even the nutrients in the lettuce, Hutchinson said it is not true.
So far the FDA has only approved the practice for iceberg lettuce and spinach, both pre-packaged and loose leaf varieties. Irradiated foods will have the "Radura" logo (pictured at right) on the packaging along with the statement "treated with radiation" or "treated by irradiation."
It's important to note, though, that the radiation will kill bacteria but not viruses so you still need to wash your produce before eating it. A major reason for the move was the recent E. coli outbreak involving spinach that killed three people and sickened nearly 200 more. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300,000 people are hospitalized and 5,000 die from food-borne illnesses annually. "These are very deadly, very dangerous organisms and this is one more means of killing those bacteria," Hutchinson said.
Another benefit to the radiation is that it gives food an extended shelf life, killing the bacteria that tend to spoil the lettuce. "Given the choice of eating irradiated lettuce or coming down with salmonella or E. coli and losing some kidney function, I'll take the irradiated lettuce," Hutchinson said. It is up to food processors to decide if they want to use radiation or not.

Consumers less tolerant of recalls, want COOL labels: survey
By Janie Gabbett on 10/31/2008
Source of Article:
More than half of consumers responding to a survey said they change their buying habits as the result of product quality problems such as recalls, often turning away from these products for as long as nine months.
A recent survey of 1,004 adult consumers commissioned by Deloitte LLP showed changes in buying habits were most common when quality problems occur in fresh food and packaged food and beverages as opposed to problems with toys and consumer electronics.
More than half (54 percent) of those surveyed said they were more concerned about the safety of fresh food products than they were a year ago.

The survey also showed that 67 percent of respondents indicated that food product labels with country -of -origin labeling would be extremely important in their buying decisions. About 73 percent said they were extremely concerned about the safety of products produced in China.
Most respondents wanted more information on the safety of food products, including:

86 percent want more information on packaging
81 percent want more on company Web sites and
81 percent want more information from the government.

Click here for more information

Matrix: Simultaneous Same Day Dual Test For E.coli & Salmonella
Source of Article:
Matrix MicroScience of Newmarket UK & Golden CO, announced the launch of its first ever new simultaneous same day (8 hr) dual test for E.coli O157 and Salmonella in raw ground beef and produce.
The Pathatrix¢ç same day ¡°dual¡± test is unique in that it can simultaneously detect the presence of low levels 1-10 cfu / sample in eight hours. The high volume of sample that the Pathatrix¢ç can analyse is the key to this approach coupled to the use of highly specific antibody coated beads. Pathatrix¢ç is the only commercially available system that can analyse 100% of the sample.
The benefits of the same day dual test for E.coli O157 & Salmonella are as follows:
Uses a single non-proprietary enrichment broth leading to significant savings in labour and media
-Can be completed within 8 hours when coupled to real time PCR
-Can be done individually or in a ¡°5 Pooled¡± format
-Sensitivity of 1-10 cfu per sample of both organisms in raw ground beef and raw produce.
For the first time the Pathatrix¢ç dual test can make positive release a realistic option for food processors in the produce and beef industries, by giving a true < 8 hour turnaround in results.
Dr Adrian Parton, C.E.O. of Matrix MicroScience said, ¡°The release of the Dual Salmonella & E.coli O157 test targeted at the raw ground beef and produce industries represents a revolution in microbial diagnostics¡±. It is further evidence of the commitment to our customers and to the industry to provide them with better diagnostic products.¡±
For further info, visit

Pros and Cons of Commercial Irradiation of Fresh Iceberg Lettuce and Fresh Spinach: A Literature Review Part III. Food Quality
Source of Article:

Part I and Part II of this series reviewed the historical background and technology of food irradiation, and the food safety implications relating to FDA¡¯s recent approval of a new rule for use of ionizing irradiation as a processing step in fresh iceberg lettuce and spinach. This segment summarizes state-of-the art knowledge of the pros and cons (advantages and limitations) of using ionizing radiation to enhance the quality of fresh iceberg lettuce and spinach. The term ¡°food quality¡± encompasses all of the objective and subjective factors that contribute to a food¡¯s wholesomeness, nutritional value, and sensory attributes. Peri (2006) succinctly defined food quality as: ¡°fitness for consumption,¡± in other words, ¡°the requirements necessary to satisfy the needs and expectations of the consumer.¡±

Ionizing Radiation as a Food Preservation Technique
Irradiation is one of many food preservation techniques. As discussed in Part I, food irradiation is not new, but the application of this technology to fresh lettuce and spinach was only recently approved in the US. Before delving into the details of food quality in the context of food irradiation, it is worthwhile to consider the historical perspective of food preservation, and how food irradiation fits into this picture.
The quality of any fresh food deteriorates after harvest, in part, due to the action of spoilage organisms (e.g., bacteria, fungi). Spoilage leads to loss of nutrients and negative effects on the flavor and appearance of fresh food over time. The negative effects of deterioration could be avoided if consumers were able to prepare and eat foods almost immediately after the food leaves the farm. But, for most consumers this scenario is not practical on a year-around basis. The search for efficient and effective methods to preserve the safety, quality, and nutritional value of perishable foods during transportation and storage, while simultaneously maintaining the benefits of the original fresh product, has been an ongoing challenge across the ages of civilization.
The earliest examples of food preservation include cooking/boiling, cold storage (refrigeration/freezing), drying, and salting. To this day, these traditional methods remain a cornerstone in the prevention of food spoilage and waste, worldwide. Examples of more recent historical developments in food preservation include pasteurization and canning.
In the modern age, the food processing industry has addressed the unique food preservation challenges associated with fresh produce by introducing novel approaches such as the use of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and wash water disinfectants, especially for fresh-cut, minimally processed produce. Temperature control (refrigeration) continues to be the most important approach to preserving the quality and safety of fresh produce. Irradiation of fresh lettuce and spinach represents a new tool in the produce preservation toolbox. The following are examples of current approaches to achieve food quality preservation of fresh produce that may be used individually, or in combination, depending on the specific product.

- Refrigeration
- Freezing (spinach)
- Heat treatment ? cooking and canning (spinach)
- Wash water sanitizers (e.g., sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, chlorine dioxide, ozonated water, etc.)
- Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), a procedure that packages fresh-cut lettuce/spinach in high CO2 and low O2 to control spoilage organisms
- Ionizing radiation

Irradiation and the Fresh-Cut Produce Industry
It is worth noting that many of the produce-related papers in this review address ¡°fresh-cut¡± fruits and vegetables. Fresh-cut (also termed ¡°minimally processed¡± or ¡°value-added¡±) is defined as ready-to-eat, raw fruits and vegetables that have been peeled, chopped, shredded, or similarly processed. Fresh-cut leafy greens are usually pre-washed with a disinfectant (e.g., chlorine) and are packaged, sometimes in a modified atmosphere (reduced oxygen) to preserve the food quality. The packages range from individual containers that consumers purchase at the grocery store to institutional size packages sold to restaurants, hospitals, correctional facilities, and other facilities that serve large populations. Fresh-cut is differentiated from raw commodities such as whole lettuce heads and mature bunch spinach.

Application of Ionizing Radiation to Control Spoilage Organisms: The Shelf Test
Most retailers and consumers have experienced the disappointment of discarding spoiled fresh lettuce and spinach that was not sold or consumed, respectively, before the ¡°use by¡± date. The ¡°shelf-life,¡± defined as the length of time a product can be stored without becoming unsuitable for consumption, is relatively short for fresh produce (for example, 10-14 days for fresh spinach), which can lead to food waste. Plant bacterial and fungal pathogens are a major cause of lettuce and spinach spoilage during storage. Spoilage results in off-odors, ¡°slimy¡± or ¡°rotten¡± textures, and leaf deterioration. Because fresh-cut lettuce and spinach processing, in particular, introduces plant wounds/lesions, these products may be more vulnerable to microbial growth of spoilage organisms. The most important spoilage problems and species involved for lettuce and spinach include:

- Bacterial soft rot: Erwinia, Pseudomonas
- Watery soft rot: Sclerotinia (fungal)
- Gray mold rot: Botrytis cinerea (fungal)
Similar to foodborne pathogen reduction, the approved dosages for irradiation of lettuce and spinach significantly reduce spoilage bacterial levels (3-5 logs), and the process thereby extends shelf-life. The mechanism for control by irradiation is the same for spoilage organisms and foodborne pathogens. Thus, a major advantage to using ionizing irradiation as a microbial control step is its simultaneous impact on reducing food spoilage organisms and foodborne pathogens. However, the effectiveness of irradiation in controlling both plant and human pathogens depends on the initial quality of the iceberg lettuce or spinach coming from the field and processing plant prior to irradiation. As discussed previously, irradiation is not a replacement for good agricultural practices and good manufacturing processes; furthermore, irradiation does not ¡°sterilize¡± the lettuce/spinach, and eventually the product will spoil. Everyone across the food chain, including the consumer, must still take precautions to prevent spoilage through proper handling, especially temperature control (refrigeration).

Effect of Ionizing Radiation on Nutrient Content: The Popeye Test
Popeye the Sailor is the iconic symbol of the benefits of eating spinach. The cartoon legend purportedly gains his superhero strength from iron in canned spinach. Indeed, there is no doubt that spinach (fresh, frozen, or canned) is highly nutritious, and the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) value for spinach is classified as ¡°good¡± for iron (and calcium, fiber). Spinach is also considered an ¡°excellent¡± source of vitamins A, C, K, and folate. In contrast, iceberg lettuce is only an ¡°excellent¡± source of vitamin K.
Every food processing technique is subjected to intense scrutiny by nutritionists in the academic and regulatory world to determine the positive and negative effects on nutrient content. Food irradiation is no different, and there is an abundant amount of studies in the scientific literature describing the effect of ionizing radiation on nutrient quality of specific foods under specific conditions.
Prior to analyzing the results of these studies for any food, it is critical to consider two general key questions:
1) Is the nutrient sensitive to ionizing irradiation in the food product?
2) If so, how important is the food product as a source of the nutrient(s) in the overall diet?
Nutrients are divided into two broad categories: macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein/essential amino acids, fats/lipids, water) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Notably, water is the largest component of iceberg lettuce (96%) and spinach (92%). Lettuce and spinach are not major contributors to macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat/lipid, protein) in the diet, and are therefore not significant in the nutritional evaluation of irradiation effects. Likewise, irradiation does not significantly impact minerals (including Popeye¡¯s iron).
Vitamins are divided into two groups based on their solubility in water. The water soluble vitamins are more sensitive to destruction by irradiation. Specifically, radiation can break bonds in some vitamin molecules causing inactivation. Also, irradiation produces free radicals that can combine with antioxidant vitamins and cause the vitamin to lose its activity. Below is a summary of the impacts of ionizing radiation on the four important vitamins in fresh spinach and/or lettuce.
-Vitamin A (pro-vitamin caratenoids): this fat soluble vitamin is relatively resistant to radiation. An older study by Richardson (1961) found no significant loss at doses up to 14 times (56 kGy) the maximum approved FDA dose (4 kGy) for spinach. Evaluation of carrots, an important source of this vitamin, also showed minimal effects from radiation on this nutrient.
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): this water soluble vitamin is sensitive to irradiation and may undergo a reaction to produce dehydroascorbic acid; however, the reaction is reversible. Fan and Sokorai (2008) compared irradiated and non-irradiated fresh-cut iceberg lettuce and spinach and found the loss of vitamin C was similar in both groups; they concluded that most vitamin C loss related to deterioration over time during storage.
- Vitamin K: this fat-soluble vitamin is particularly resistant to radiation and studies have found no significant losses following medium-dose treatment.
- Folate: this water-soluble vitamin has some sensitivity to radiation. Muller (1996) documented a 10% loss at 2.5 kGy. Similar to vitamin C, the folate losses in spinach appear to be much more significant from storage time compared with radiation.

Overall, the vitamin losses following medium-dose irradiation of fresh iceberg lettuce and spinach are relatively insignificant, especially compared with losses due to storage time and temperature abuse. As perspective, researchers from Pennsylvania State University published a study in 2004 showing more than 50% of the folate and carotenoid (vitamin A) content of spinach was lost after 8 days of storage at refrigeration temperatures, and after only 4 days with temperature abuse.

Sensory Evaluations: The Taste Test
¡°Sensory science¡± is a field of ¡°psychophysics.¡± It is the scientific study of the senses and psychological responses to stimuli, for example: taste/flavor, appearance/color, texture, and aroma/odor of food. Although consumers will differ in opinion when evaluating these subjective qualities of food, sensory science utilizes trained ¡°panelists¡± and statistical analyses to quantify the sensory attributes. Additionally, qualities such as texture and color can be measured using objective criteria such as electrolyte loss (associated with ¡°sogginess¡±) and chlorophyll loss (color changes) in lettuce and spinach leaves under different conditions.
Fan and his research team at the USDA ARS Eastern Regional Research Center have been on the forefront of irradiation research of fresh-cut produce and food quality. In 2002, Fan and Sokorai documented a dose-response for ionizing radiation of fresh-cut iceberg lettuce in MAP; higher radiation doses (> 2 kGy) correlated with increased sogginess. A subsequent study (2003) showed that the combination of warm water treatment and MAP could reduce the negative effects of radiation on iceberg lettuce appearance and texture. Zhang et al (2006) found a similar dose response: ¡°experimental results showed that the number of aerobic mesophilic bacteria on fresh-cut lettuce irradiated with 1.0 kGy was reduced by 2.35 logs and sensory quality was maintained best during storage for 8 days at 4¡ÆC.¡± Increasing the dose to 1.5 kGy resulted in a 3 log reduction in spoilage bacteria, but also caused some damage to leaf tissue appearance.
In 2008, Fan and Sokorai describe the results of a comprehensive study of food quality effects of irradiation on 13 fresh-cut vegetables including iceberg lettuce packaged in air, iceberg lettuce in MAP, and spinach in MAP. Based on previous studies, they chose a dose of 1 kGy, and compared quality characteristics over 14 days of storage in two groups: irradiated vegetables and non-irradiated/control vegetables. They found:

- No significant differences in texture between the irradiated and control groups for iceberg lettuce and spinach during 14 days of storage.
- No significant differences in appearance for irradiated or control group spinach during 14 day storage.
- Irradiated iceberg lettuce packaged in air showed irradiation-induced enzymatic browning during storage compared with the control group
- Irradiated iceberg lettuce packaged in MAP had a better appearance score than the control group, which suggests that MAP may be an approach to mitigate the irradiation browning effect for iceberg lettuce.
- Irradiated iceberg lettuce had an off-odor due to the packaging material used in the study

Notably, there were few studies in the literature comparing different packaging materials, styles (e.g., bag, clam shell), and sizes (individual, institutional) specific for fresh iceberg lettuce and spinach. This research will be needed to fully evaluate the effects of radiation on food quality, and optimize the dose for commercial processing of fresh iceberg lettuce and spinach.

In summary, the food quality literature relating to irradiation of fresh iceberg lettuce and spinach suggests that the process has the following pros and cons:
- Reduction of spoilage microorganisms, which may translate into increased shelf-life and less food waste
- Minor to no significant loss of important nutrients in lettuce and spinach, especially compared with nutrient loss following other common food preservation techniques (e.g., boiling and freezing) and losses during storage
- At the low-end of the approved dose range for fresh lettuce and spinach (1 kGy), there was limited to no detectable problems with sensory qualities (appearance, taste, texture, and aroma)

- In general, as the dose increases, the log reduction of susceptible spoilage organisms (and foodborne pathogens) also increases, but the increased dose (especially over 2 kGy) may have negative effects on nutrients and sensory attributes
-Some packaging material may not be appropriate (or FDA approved) for irradiation processing as shown in a recent study (Fan and Sokorai, 2008) where the packaging material caused ¡°off-odors¡± in fresh-cut iceberg lettuce

Taken together, the food safety and food quality literature review shows that the pros can be balanced against the cons of ionizing radiation with optimization of the process. In other words, the technology is not ¡°one size fits all,¡¯ and each type of product and packaging material must be evaluated to identify conditions that both promote food safety and preserve food quality. The experts frequently recommend a ¡°hurdle approach¡± that employs a combination of treatments designed to minimize the radiation dose while maximizing the positive effects on microbial control and food quality.
In the final part of this series (Part IV), the costs versus the benefits for industry and consumers of implementing commercial irradiation into fresh lettuce and spinach processing will be discussed. In addition, the literature on consumer acceptance, and how irradiation of fresh lettuce and spinach may impact consumer confidence in the leafy green supply, will be analyzed.

FSIS provides new guidance to inspectors for E. coli testing in raw beef
By Ann Bagel Storck on 11/3/2008
Source of Article:
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is providing new guidance to inspection program personnel on collecting samples of beef manufacturing trimmings and other raw ground beef and patty components for E. coli O157:H7 testing.
Currently, FSIS personnel are not to send samples to a laboratory until the establishment has completed pre-shipment review for the sampled lot.
Under this notice, however, inspection program personnel are instructed not to wait, and instead submit the raw beef sample to the laboratory after the establishment has completed all interventions, except for any intervention that is based on microbiological test results. Consequently, FSIS, in many cases, will be collecting and submitting samples to the laboratory before the establishment completes pre-shipment review.

Canada approves E coli vaccine for cattle
Lisa Schnirring Staff Writer

Source of Article:
Nov 3, 2008 (CIDRAP News) ? Bioniche Life Sciences, based in Belleville, Ont., announced recently that it received full approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to market the world's first vaccine to reduce Escherichia coli O157:H7 shedding by cattle, a measure that could decrease contamination in meat and produce.
Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia whose research led to development of the vaccine, said in an Oct 27 Bioniche press release, "If we block the colonization of cows by O157, we basically decrease the number that humans are exposed to, and thus, dropping disease levels in humans."
The company said the vaccine could also be used in livestock at petting zoos and agricultural expositions to reduce bacterial transmission to humans.
Bioniche is also positioning itself to market the vaccine to cattle producers in the United States, according to a previous report. In February, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) notified the company that the latest data on the vaccine met its "expectation of efficacy" standard, which allowed the company to pursue a conditional US license.
E coli O157:H7 doesn't sicken cattle but is potentially fatal to humans. It produces a toxin that causes diarrhea, often bloody, but usually no fever. Though most patients with E coli O157:H7 infections recover in 5 to 10 days, 2% to 7% develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal form of kidney failure.

'A missing link'
Bill Clark, a nephrologist at the London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ont., said that an E coli O157:H7 vaccine isn't a firewall against food contamination, according to an Oct 28 report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). "I'm not sure any one solution will do it, and I certainly think people still have to be very careful with their food practices," he told the CBC.
Kym Anthony, a specialty beef producer in Clarksburg, Ont., said in the Bioniche press release that he has been using the vaccine over the past year under a conditional Canadian permit. "We've been trying to do our part to be an industry leader in food safety. The E coli vaccine fits into that," Anthony said. "It's been a missing link in the industry so far."
However, some producers may find the cost prohibitive. Rick Holley, a professor of food safety and microbiology at the University of Manitoba, told the CBC, "So long as these organisms don't make the animals sick, you're not going to see a great deal of incentive to move toward prevention."
The company did not list a cost for the vaccine, but officials previously told CIDRAP News that a course of the vaccine would likely cost less than $10 per head of cattle. As approved by the CFIA, the course involves three doses, but a study published in the October issue of Foodborne Pathogens and Disease showed that a two-dose regimen reduced the probability of environmental transmission of E coli O157:H7 within a large-scale cattle feeding operation.
The vaccine, called Econiche, will be produced at Bioniche's Belleville facility, which is undergoing a $25 million expansion. The company said vaccine supplies would be limited during the expansion period.

US company eyes cattle vaccine
On the same day Bioniche announced it had received full Canadian approval, a US company, GeneThera, Inc, based in Wheat Ridge, Colo., announced that it had signed an agreement with the University of New Mexico's (UNM's) technology transfer arm to license and distribute a cattle E coli vaccine developed at the UNM Health Sciences Center.
The vaccine contains live attenuated bacteria developed by Edgar Boedeker, an internal medicine professor at UNM, and Chengru Zhu, formerly of UNM and now chief of environmental microbiology at the Maryland Department of Health, according to a GeneThera statement. The vaccine is designed to inhibit the carriage and shedding of enterohemorrhagic E coli such as O157:H7.
Tony Milici, MD, PhD, GeneThera's chairman, said in the statement that the company will launch phase 2 clinical trials shortly. "Our goal is to take the vaccine to market as soon as possible," he added.

Main Page
Sponsorship Qustions

List of Newsletters

To subscribe this Food Safety Newsletter

Copyright (C). All rights reserved